by Amy Goodman
National Security Agency Whistleblower William
...on Growing State Surveillance
April 20, 2012
In his first television interview since he resigned from the National
Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney
discusses the NSAís massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided
his home after he became a whistleblower.
Binney was a key source for investigative
journalist James Bamfordís recent exposť in Wired Magazine about how the NSA
is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale,
The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store
all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private
emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.
Binney served in
the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical
director of the NSAís World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting
Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSAís
data-mining program has become so vast that it could "create an Orwellian
Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on
national television about NSA surveillance.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Today we bring you a
Democracy Now! special on the growing domestic surveillance state and
the Department of Homeland Securityís efforts to spy on dissident
journalists and activists. In a national broadcast exclusive, weíre
joined by National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney. He was
a key source for James Bamfordís recent [exposť] in Wired Magazine about
the NSA - how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the
country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain nearly
bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by
the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls and Google
searches and other personal data.
Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as director
of the NSAís World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group.
Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the agencyís
data-mining program has become so vast that it could, quote, "create an
Orwellian state." Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on
national television about surveillance by the National Security Agency.
AMY GOODMAN: Weíre also joined by two individuals who have been frequent
targets of government surveillance: Laura Poitras, the Academy
Award-nominated filmmaker, and Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security
researcher who has volunteered with WikiLeaks. Poitras is the director
of the documentary films My Country, My Country and The Oath. Both
Poitras and Appelbaum have been repeatedly detained and interrogated by
federal agents when entering the United States. Their laptops, cameras
and cell phones have been seized, and presumably their data has been
The Justice Department has also targeted Applebaumís online
communications. In November, a federal judge ordered Twitter to hand
over information about his account. In October, the Wall Street Journal
revealed the Justice Department had obtained a secret court order to
force Google and the internet provider Sonic.net to turn over
information about Appelbaumís email accounts.
William Binney, Laura Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum will be speaking
tonight at the Whitney Museum here in New York for a teach-in on
surveillance. The three of them join us here in our studio together in a
broadcast for the first time. Weíre going to begin with William Binney.
You worked for the National Security Agency for more than three decades.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Almost four.
AMY GOODMAN: Almost four decades.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: You, for a time, directed the NSAís World Geopolitical and
Military Analysis Reporting Group. Tell us what you did and then why you
left and what happened to you afterwards.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I was the technical director of that group, that
basically looked at the world, so we looked at all the technical
problems of - in the world, and see how we could solve collection,
analysis and reporting on military and geopolitical issues all around
the world, every country in the world. So, it was a rather large
technical problem to tackle, but it - and one of the largest problems we
thought we had was looking at the World Wide Web and all the ballooning
and mushrooming communications in the world. And our ability to deal
with that was diminishing over time, so I kind of referred to it as our
inability to keep up with the rate of change. So, we were falling behind
the rate of change.
So we - I had a very small group of people in a lab, and we decided to
attack that problem. And we did it by looking at how we could graph the
network of communications and all the communications in the world, and
then - and then focus in on that graph and use the graph to limit what
we wanted to attack. And we basically succeeded at that, but in the
process, of course, we scooped up Americans from different places, so we
had to protect their identities, according to our laws and privacy
rights of U.S. citizens. So, under USSID 18, we built in protections to
anonymize their identities, so you couldnít really tell who you were
JUAN GONZALEZ: And thatís because the NSA could do surveillance from
abroad, but not of U.S. citizens.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, and, you see, the World Wide Web routes things all
over, so you never really know where U.S. citizensí communications are
going to be routed. So, you - if you were collecting somewhere else on
another continent, you could still get U.S. citizens. Thatís - see, that
was a universal problem. So we devised how to do that and protect U.S.
citizens. So - and this was all before 9/11. And we devised how to do
that, made that effective and operating. So we were actually prepared to
deploy about eight months before 9/11 and actually have a system that
would run and manage the - what I call 20 terabytes a minute of
So - but after 9/11, all the wraps came off for NSA, and they decided to
- between the White House and NSA and CIA, they decided to eliminate the
protections on U.S. citizens and collect on domestically. So they
started collecting from a commercial - the one commercial company that I
know of that participated provided over 300 - probably, on the average,
about 320 million records of communication of a U.S. citizen to a U.S.
citizen inside this country.
AMY GOODMAN: What company?
WILLIAM BINNEY: AT&T. It was long-distance communications. So they were
providing billing data. At that point, I knew I could not stay, because
it was a direct violation of the constitutional rights of everybody in
the country. Plus it violated the pen register law and Stored
Communications Act, the Electronic Privacy Act, the intelligence acts of
1947 and 1978. I mean, it was just this whole series of - plus all the
laws covering federal communications governing telecoms. I mean, all
those laws were being violated, including the Constitution. And that was
a decision made that wasnít going to be reversed, so I could not stay
there. I had to leave.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And I wanted to get back to, for a moment, when you say
that you were developing a way to cope with the fact that the agency was
falling behind, just because the sheer volume of the material that they
were sweeping up was so great, that it was impossible, at times, to find
the important intelligence material.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So you, in essence, were creating a program that filtered
out the valuable stuff.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right. Thatís right.
JUAN GONZALEZ: What - did it have a name, the program?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, it was called Thin Thread. I mean, Thin Thread was
our - a test program that we set up to do that. By the way, I viewed it
as we never had enough data, OK? We never got enough. It was never
enough for us to work at, because I looked at velocity, variety and
volume as all positive things. Volume meant you got more about your
target. Velocity meant you got it faster. Variety meant you got more
aspects. These were all positive things. All we had to do was to devise
a way to use and utilize all of those inputs and be able to make sense
of them, which is what we did.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And when they didnít use your system, they - the NSA
developed another or attempted to develop another system to do the same?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, that one failed. They didnít produce anything with
AMY GOODMAN: And that one was called?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Trailblazer, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Trailblazer, and -
WILLIAM BINNEY: I called it - I called it five-year plan number one.
Five-year plan number two was Turbulence. Five-year plan number three is
AMY GOODMAN: And Trailblazer cost how much money?
WILLIAM BINNEY: That was, I think, in my - my sense, was a little over
AMY GOODMAN: Four billion dollars.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: But it was scuttled. It was done away with in 2006?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes, '05, I think it was. But yes, that's right. And we
developed our program with $3 million, roughly.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Trailblazer was largely developed by SAIC, the -
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, they were contributing contractors, yeah. But they
- I think they had the lead - they were the lead contractors in some of
AMY GOODMAN: And why did they go with this one, though, ultimately, they
did not use it? This is under Michael Hayden at the time?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes. Well -
AMY GOODMAN: Under the Bush administration?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I thought - my sense was it was a good employment
program. And it was a large budget program. It would spend money, a lot
of money, so it would build the budget and -
AMY GOODMAN: Go to a major weapons manufacturer.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: And heads of the agency, National Security Agency, would go
back and forth working at NSA, working at SAIC.
WILLIAM BINNEY: It was - we called it an incestuous relationship, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: What happened to you after you quit? You quit within a
month of the 9/11 attacks.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Thirty-first of October of 2001, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And then what happened?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, we tried to form out the company to at least help
the government to deal with some of the massive data problems they had,
like in - even in the FBI, and also Customs and Border Protection and
NRO and various other agencies. And every time we went somewhere to try
to develop something, why, we got canceled, our contract got canceled,
for - basically because, we have heard, anyway, that they were told that
certain agencies didnít want them hiring us, so they didnít want us
working for them, so...
JUAN GONZALEZ: And before you left, in that short period when it became
obvious to you the direction that the NSA was going to, did you - when
you raised objections or raised concerns, what was the response?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I went directly to the Intelligence Committee,
because it was their job to - because, first of all, when that happened,
I mean, the people they had to use to set it up - since they used part
of the program we developed to set it up, they had to use our people to
set it up, initially, because no one else knew the code, and no one else
knew how to get it operating. So, when they did that, they came - those
people came to me and said, "You know, theyíre doing this," you know,
and they told me what they were doing. And so I immediately went to the
Intelligence Committee, because they were - the intelligence committees
were formed to have oversight over the intelligence community to make
sure they didnít monitor U.S. citizens. This was a fallout of
Committee back in the '70s. And the member of the staff that I went to
went to Porter Goss, who was chairman of that committee at the time, and
he referred her to General Hayden for any further. When it was the job
of that committee to do the oversight on all this domestic spying, they
weren't doing it, OK? Basically, the - at the time, according to Dick
Cheneyís interview on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, he said the - at
that time, only the majority or minority leaders, the HPSCI and the SSCI,
were involved in having knowledge about this program, Stellar Wind,
which you had talked with Tom Drake about.
AMY GOODMAN: The former NSA -
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right, right.
AMY GOODMAN: - employee who was also a whistleblower.
WILLIAM BINNEY: And that was the program, of course, that Director
Mueller reported was the issue that - with the hospital visit with
Ashcroft. So -
AMY GOODMAN: And explain that, very briefly, for - to remind people.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, the whole program, I guess, had to be reauthorized
every 45 days, and they had to have the director of NSA, director of CIA
and the attorney general sign an affidavit that they still needed the
program and that it was legal. And when Comey and Goldsmith in the DOJ
decided that this really was a violation of the Constitution and was
illegal, then that issue came up. And thatís what - thatís what got
everybody kind of disturbed and ready to - ready, actually, to resign in
2004, early 2004, I believe that was. And as a part of it was coming up
for reauthorization, and so Gonzales left the White House, along with
one other person I canít remember, and went to the hospital where
Ashcroft was, because he was - had pancreatitis, I believe, and was in
the hospital, and Comey was the acting attorney general. And so, at that
point, they went to Ashcroft to see if he would overrule Comey, who had
denied reauthorization and declared it basically illegal. And so, they
tried to get Ashcroft to overrule that and went to the hospital to do
that. And Director Mueller, I think, also quickly got to the hospital to
help ensure that Ashcroft was not taken advantage of, I guess. So...
AMY GOODMAN: When was your home raided?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Twenty-sixth of July of 2007.
AMY GOODMAN: What happened? Where did you
WILLIAM BINNEY: I should - I should say that it was the morning of the
second day after Gonzalesís testimony, the then-Attorney General
Gonzalesís testimony, to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the TSP, the
- what was called the TSP, which I refer to as a fabricated plan. It was
created to cover a number of plans, one of which was Stellar Wind, and
the others - which they didnít want to discuss. And the others were
And so, they picked on the wiretapping ones, because the
public would generally say,
"Yes, anybody that was potentially a
terrorist, a foreign terrorist, communicating with anybody in the United
States, we want you to monitor their communications."
So that was the
acceptable part of it. But it was grouped with Stellar Wind and some
other programs, so that they could give cover to it, talk about some
programs, say theyíre talking about the Terrorist Surveillance Program,
but it was basically a group of programs, some of which they did not
want to talk about. And he did not testify to that at the - and I
believe some of the - Whitehouse and Feingold, I think, were the two who
were on the Senate Intelligence Committee that did challenge him at the
time, saying he wasnít being truthful, and that was - he wasnít being
completely honest. So...
AMY GOODMAN: You live where?
WILLIAM BINNEY: I live in Maryland, actually four miles from NSA.
AMY GOODMAN: And what happened?
WILLIAM BINNEY: They came busting in.
AMY GOODMAN: Whoís "they"?
WILLIAM BINNEY: The FBI. About 12 of them, I think, 10 to 12. They came
in with the guns drawn, on my house.
AMY GOODMAN: Where were you?
WILLIAM BINNEY: I was in the shower. I was taking a shower, so my son
answered the door. And they of course pushed him out of the way at
gunpoint and came running upstairs and found me in the shower, and came
in and pointed the gun at me while I was, you know -
AMY GOODMAN: Pointed a gun at your head?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Oh, yeah. Yes. Wanted to make sure I saw it and that I
was duly intimidated, I guess.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And what did they - what did they do at that point? Did
they begin questioning you? Or they just took you to headquarters? Or -
WILLIAM BINNEY: No, no. Yeah, they basically separated us from - I was
separated from my family. Took me on the back porch, and they started
asking me questions about it. They were basically wanting me to tell
them something that would implicate someone in a crime. And so, I told
them that I didnít really know - they wanted to know about certain
people, that was - they were the ones that were being raided at the same
time, people who - we all signed - those who were raided that day, all
of us signed the DOD-IG complaint. We were the ones who filed that
AMY GOODMAN: The Pentagon -
WILLIAM BINNEY: The Pentagon DOD-IG, against -
AMY GOODMAN: - inspector general complaint.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Against NSA, yes, talking about fraud - basically
corruption, fraud, waste and abuse. And then -
AMY GOODMAN: Tom Drake was raided at the same time?
WILLIAM BINNEY: No, he was raided in November of that year. We were just
the ones who signed it, were raided.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So, and who were the other people that were raided that
WILLIAM BINNEY: Diane Roark, Kirk Wiebe and Ed Loomis.
AMY GOODMAN: Diane Roark worked for the Senate committee?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Diane was the senior staffer. She had the NSA account on
the HPSCI side, on the House side. So she was monitoring. She was doing
oversight. She was doing real oversight; the others werenít. Basically,
the others were simply taking what the NSA said verbatim and taking them
at their word. So, basically, that was not oversight. But Diane would
probe and be prying into what they were saying to find out really
clearly what was going on. And -
JUAN GONZALEZ: And ostensibly, they were searching for who was leaking
information to the - who had leaked information to the New York Times.
WILLIAM BINNEY: That was the pretext, yes. But I accused them of being
sent there by someone outside the FBI. And that - their body language
told me that I hit it right on the head. So - and I also - after a
while, they were questioning me, and I couldnít tell them anything,
because I didnít know anything that would implicate any of the four of
us, so -
AMY GOODMAN: They were looking for leaks.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, that was the pretext, the leak on the - to give
the New York Times thing. The real thing - what they were really doing
was retribution and intimidation so we didnít go to the Judiciary
Committee in the Senate and tell them, "Well, hereís what Gonzales
didnít tell you, OK." That was what it was really all about. And also,
it was retribution for that DOD-IG complaint, because it was a rather
embarrassing report that they gave, so...
JUAN GONZALEZ: And what is it that Gonzales didnít tell them, in your
perspective, in terms of what is happening to our national security
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, it was about - it was about Stellar Wind and all
of the domestic spying.
AMY GOODMAN: Weíre going to break and come back to this conversation.
William Binney was the technical director of the National Security
Agency, which, by the way, is a number of times larger than the CIA, the
National Security Agencyís World Geopolitical and Military Analysis
Reporting Group. When we come back, weíll also speak with a well-known
hacker, Jacob Appelbaum, who has volunteered for WikiLeaks - heís a
computer security researcher - and Laura Poitras, whose films, My
Country, My Country and The Oath, are well known. Sheís been nominated
for an Oscar.
This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.
Detained in The U.S.
- Filmmaker Laura Poitras Held and Questioned Some 40 Times at
U.S. Airports -
April 20, 2012
The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras discusses how she
has been repeatedly detained and questioned by federal agents whenever she
enters the United States.
Poitras said the interrogations began after she
began working on her documentary, "My Country, My Country," about
post-invasion Iraq. Her most recent film, "The Oath," was about Yemen and
GuantŠnamo and follows the lives of two past associates of Osama bin Laden.
She estimates she has been detained
approximately 40 times and has had her laptop, cell phone and personal
belongings repeatedly searched. Tonight she is leading a surveillance
teach-in at the Whitney Museum in New York City with our other guests,
computer security researcher and government target Jacob Appelbaum and
National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney.
Poiras is currently at work on a film about
AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are William Binney,
who was technical director of the NSAís World Geopolitical and Military
Analysis Reporting Group. He worked with the NSA for almost 40 years,
National Security Agency. Weíre also joined by Laura Poitras, the
Oscar-nominated filmmaker, and Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security
You two have something in common with each other. You - every time you
come into the United States by plane, you are stopped, you are searched,
you are interrogated. Laura Poitras, tell us about your experience. Your
LAURA POITRAS: Right. Well, I mean, Iíve been stopped at the border
since 2006, since I started working on a series of films looking at U.S.
post-9/11. And so, Iíve been - Iíve actually lost count of how many
times Iíve been detained at the border, but itís, I think, around 40
times. And -
AMY GOODMAN: Four-zero.
LAURA POITRAS: Four-zero, right. And on this particular trip, lately
theyíve been actually sending someone from the Department of Homeland
Security to question me in the departing city, so I was questioned in
London about what I was doing. I told them I was a journalist and that,
you know, my work is protected, and I wasnít going to discuss it. And
then, on this particular occasion, I landed at Newark Airport, and they
- what they do when Iím flying, they do passport control inspection at
the gate. So they make everyone whoís deplaning show their passport. And
so, thatís how they -
JUAN GONZALEZ: So they donít even wait for you to get to Immigration.
LAURA POITRAS: No, I donít get - I donít get into Immigration. I get the
escorted treatment from -
AMY GOODMAN: So they make everyone show the passport, until they get to
LAURA POITRAS: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: And then they take you off the plane.
LAURA POITRAS: And then they take me away. And then Iím escorted, first
through Immigration. And so, this has been going on - you know, Iíve
been through this several times and kind of know how it goes. But what
happened on this particular trip, which was very disturbing, so -
AMY GOODMAN: Just a few weeks ago.
LAURA POITRAS: Yeah. So I was met by two agents at Newark. One of them
is Agent Wassum. And I - when they met me, I took out my pen and paper
to note their names and the time and - because Iíve always taken notes,
so I have a record of the questions that Iím asked and how long Iím
detained for, whatís the focus of the interrogation, what they are doing
to me. And on this occasion, I took out my pen, and I was ordered to put
away my pen. And I didnít, and I continued to take notes. And I was
ordered again to put away the pen, and I didnít. And then he threatened
to handcuff me for not putting away my pen. And at that point, I put
away my pen and then walked to Immigration and took out my pen again to
take notes, was ordered again to put away my pen, and then was taken
into secondary screening. And I asked to speak to a supervisor,
explained I was a journalist, explained that legal counsel has told me
that I should be taking notes of my detention and interrogation. And
then I was told that I couldnít take notes, that I was free to take
notes after I was finished being questioned. And then -
JUAN GONZALEZ: Under the theory that what? The pen was a weapon?
LAURA POITRAS: Oh, yeah, thatís right. They said that my pen was a
dangerous weapon. So thatís what - thatís Agent Wassum who said that,
that my pen was a threat to them. And, you know, I mean, in terms of the
context, you have to understand that Iím surrounded by border agents who
are all carrying guns, and Iím taking out, you know, a pen that they
find threatening. And so, this was, you know, profoundly upsetting. And
then I was taken into - I was taken directly into an interrogation room
and questioned. I took out my pen again. I was ordered by another agent
to put it away. And this went on for quite some time. And I was told
during this interrogation - I mean, Iím always asserting my rights as a
journalist to not reveal my work, my sources.
AMY GOODMAN: You did a film on Yemen. You did a film on Iraq.
LAURA POITRAS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so, this detention started after I
finished the first film in 2006, and which was about the occupation of
Iraq. And I was told that I was refusing to cooperate with an
And then he said,
"Well, it wasnít an investigation; it
was questioning," but that I was refusing to cooperate.
And then I
asserted my rights, that actually asserting oneís rights is not refusing
And so, this went on for quite some time. And, I mean,
itís something thatís been happening for a while, and Iíve talked about
it publicly, but also have been hesitant to, because I donít want to
jeopardize the work that I do.
AMY GOODMAN: They took your computer? They took -
LAURA POITRAS: Not on this trip, no. In the past, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Theyíve taken your computer?
LAURA POITRAS: On one occasion, they took my computer.
AMY GOODMAN: Theyíve taken your phone?
LAURA POITRAS: Yeah. Yeah, on one occasion. I was actually - it was
right after, a few days after they - it was actually maybe a week after
Jacobís computer was detained.
AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! contacted the Department of Homeland
Security for an explanation of why you were detained and interrogated at
the airport on April 5th. We received a reply from Anthony Bucci, the
public affairs specialist - thatís B-U-C-C-I - in New York City for U.S.
Customs and Borders Protection.
He emailed, quote:
"Due to privacy laws,
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is prohibited from discussing
He went on to write, quote:
"Our dual mission is to
facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our
people and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists
and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband."
He did not answer our
LAURA POITRAS: Well, I guess they should add "journalist" to that list.
"We Donít Live in a Free Country"
- Jacob Appelbaum on Being Target of Widespread Govít
April 20, 2012
We speak with Jacob Appelbaum, a computer researcher who has faced a
stream of interrogations and electronic surveillance since he volunteered
with the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks.
He describes being detained more than a dozen
times at the airport and interrogated by federal agents who asked about his
political views and confiscated his cell phone and laptop.
When asked why he cannot talk about what
happened after he was questioned, Appelbaum says,
"Because we donít live in a free country.
And if I did, I guess I could tell you about it."
A federal judge ordered Twitter to hand over
information about Appelbaumís account.
Meanwhile, he continues to work on
the Tor Project, an anonymity network that ensures every person has the
right to browse the internet without restriction and the right to speak
JUAN GONZALEZ: Jacob, your experiences
entering the United States at various times?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, after the summer of 2010, my life became a little
hectic with regard to flying. I do a lot of traveling, working with the
Tor Project. And after the summer of 2010, where I gave a speech at
Hackers on Planet Earth in place of Julian Assange, I was targeted by
the U.S. government and essentially, until the last four times that Iíve
flown, I was detained basically every time. Sometimes men would meet me
at the jetway, similarly, with guns.
AMY GOODMAN: Let us play that moment when you went to the HOPE
JACOB APPELBAUM: Oh, dear.
AMY GOODMAN: Hackers on Planet Earth. Julian Assange was supposed to be
there. He wasnít. You stood up. This is the beginning of what you said.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Hello to all my friends and fans in domestic and
international surveillance. Iím here today because I believe that we can
make a better world.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did you go on to say?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Basically, I went on to talk about how I feel that
people like Bill need to come forward to talk about what the U.S.
government is doing, so that we can make informed choices as a
democracy. And I went on to talk about how WikiLeaks is a part of making
that happen. And as long as we have excessive classification and
secrecy, that we need a WikiLeaks, and we need to stand in solidarity
together, so that people will have the information that they need to
understand whatís actually happening in their names.
JUAN GONZALEZ: You mentioned the Tor Project that you work with. What is
JACOB APPELBAUM: The Tor Project is an anonymity network, which ensures
that each person has the right to read, without restriction, and the
right to speak freely, with no exception.
AMY GOODMAN: T-O-R?
TorProject.org. And the basic idea is that every person
in the world has the right to read and the right to speak freely. And
using their software, using principles of mutual aid and solidarity -
something familiar to Democracy Now! viewers, I imagine - itís possible
for everybody to use this anonymity network, spread out across the
planet. Itís a thing thatís useful for resisting so-called lawful
interception. So, for example, when Mubarak in Egypt wants to wiretap
someone, they only see an activist talking to the Tor network; they
donít see that person connecting to Twitter. And that is something that
can be used by everybody everywhere to resist so-called lawful
JUAN GONZALEZ: And you use a program that was actually developed by the
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, yeah. So, originally, the Tor Project is born
from ideas that come from the anonymity community, of which the U.S.
military has actually contributed quite heavily to. But since the times
of the original onion routing patents, it has become a free software
project, where, as far as I know, the U.S. Navy has contributed zero
lines of code to it, but certainly lots of good ideas, because they
understand, as many other people do, that if everyone has anonymous
communication, that means everyone does, and if only special people do,
it means that you can tell that those are special people that have
special privileges, and you can basically see who they are.
So, for example, the Riseup Collective, which you mentioned earlier on
the show, they run a number of tor nodes. And I run some, and many other
people do. And as long as you get one good one, you have some of the
properties that you need. And this helps people to resist not just
so-called lawful interception, but also to resist censorship. So if you
canít see inside of the communications, you canít selectively
discriminate based on the content.
AMY GOODMAN: Just to say that in our news headlines today, we said the
FBI has just seized a computer server at the New York facility shared by
the internet organization Riseup Networks and May First/People Link. But
I want to go back to your experience at the airport. If you could just
briefly say - I mean, itís been dozens and dozens of times that you have
JACOB APPELBAUM: I donít fly as much as Laura, and Laura has been at it
for a lot longer than I have. But in the period of time since theyíve
started detaining me, around a dozen-plus times. Iíve been detained a
number of times. The first time I was actually detained by the
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, I was put into a special room,
where they frisked me, put me up against the wall. One guy cupped me in
a particularly uncomfortable way. Another one held my wrists. They took
my cell phones. Iím not really actually able to talk about what happened
to those next.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Because we donít live in a free country. And if I did,
I guess I could tell you about it, right? And they took my laptop, but
they gave it back. They were a little surprised it didnít have a hard
drive. I guess that threw them for a loop. And, you know, then they
interrogated me, denied me access to a lawyer. And when they did the
interrogation, they has a member of the U.S. Army, on American soil. And
they refused to let me go. They tried - you know, they tried their usual
scare tactics. So they sort of implied that if I didnít make a deal with
them, that Iíd be sexually assaulted in prison, you know, which is the
thing that they do these days as a method of punitive punishment, and
they of course suggested that would happen.
AMY GOODMAN: How did they imply this?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, you know, they say, "You know, computer hackers
like to think theyíre all tough. But really, when it comes down to it,
you donít look like youíre going to do so good in prison." You know,
that kind of stuff.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And what was the main thrust of the questions they were
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, they wanted to know about my political views.
They wanted to know about my work in any capacity as a journalist,
actually, the notion that I could be in some way associated with Julian.
They wanted, basically, to know any -
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Julian Assange, the one and only. And they wanted -
they wanted, essentially, to ask me questions about the Iraq war, the
Afghan war, what I thought politically. They didnít ask me anything
about terrorism. They didnít ask me anything about smuggling or drugs or
any of the customs things that you would expect customs to be doing.
They didnít ask me if I had anything to declare about taxes, for
example, or about importing things. They did it purely for political
reasons and to intimidate me, denied me a lawyer. They gave me water,
but refused me a bathroom, to give you an idea about what they were
AMY GOODMAN: What happened to your Twitter account?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, the U.S. government, as I learned while I was in
Iceland, actually, sent whatís called an administrative subpoena, or a
2703(d) order. And this is, essentially, less than a search warrant, and
it asserts that you can get just the metadata and that the third party
really doesnít have a standing to challenge it, although in our case we
were very lucky, in that we got to have - Twitter actually did challenge
it, which was really wonderful. And we have been fighting this in court.
And without going into too much detail about the current court
proceedings, we lost a stay recently, which says that Twitter has to
give the data to the government. Twitter did, as I understand it,
produce that data, I was told. And that metadata actually paints - you
know, metadata and aggregate is content, and it paints a picture. So
thatís all the IP addresses I logged in from.
Itís all of the, you know,
communications that are about my communications, which is Billís
specialty, and he can, Iím sure, talk about how dangerous that metadata
The NSA is Lying-U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of
April 20, 2012
National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he
believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President
Obama than President George W. Bush.
He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion
"transactions" - phone calls, emails and other forms of data
- from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the
emails sent and received from most people living in the United States.
Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA
PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexanderís assertion that the
NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I wanted to ask William
Binney about this issue. When it comes to snail mail, the old postal
system, itís very tough for the government to intercept mail, except in
times of war, particular situations. When it comes to phone
conversations, land phone conversations, you need a warrant to be able
to intercept phone conversations. But what about email, and what about
the communication now that is really the dominant form that not only
Americans, but many people around the world communicate? What are the
restrictions on the government in terms of email?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, after some of the laws they passed, like the
PATRIOT Act and their secret interpretation of Section 215, which is -
my view, of course, is same as Tom Drakeís, is that that gives them
license to take all the commercially held data about us, which is
exceedingly dangerous, because if you take that and put it into forms of
graphing, which is building relationships or social networks for
everybody, and then you watch it over time, you can build up knowledge
about everyone in the country. And having that knowledge then allows
them the ability to concoct all kinds of charges, if they want to target
you. Like in my case, they fabricated several charges and attempted to
indict us on them. Fortunately, we were able to produce evidence that
would make them look very silly in court, so they didnít do it. In fact,
it was - I was basically assembling evidence of malicious prosecution,
which was a countercharge to them. So...
AMY GOODMAN: Do you believe all emails, the government has copies of, in
the United States?
WILLIAM BINNEY: I would think - I believe they have most of them, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And youíre speaking from a position where you would know,
considering your position in the National Security Agency.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right. All they would have to do is put various
devices at various points along the network, at choke points or
convergent points, where the network converges, and they could basically
take down and have copies of most everything on the network.
AMY GOODMAN: Jacob, your email?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, I selectively chose to use certain public
services, like Sonic.net and Gmail, and I specifically did that so as to
serve as a warning to other people. I didnít use it for anything
interesting, never once emailed Julian, for example, from those
accounts. But the U.S. government again asserted in those cases,
according to the Wall Street Journal, which is one way to find out about
whatís going on with you - they asserted that they have the right to all
that metadata. And it is possible - on Monday, I had a little
interaction with the FBI, where they sort of hinted that maybe there
might be a national security letter for one of my email accounts, which
is also hosted by Google, specifically because I want to serve as a
canary in a coal mine for other people.
AMY GOODMAN: A national security letter - itís believed the government
has given out hundreds of thousands of those.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: I have also written about NSLs. But if you get one, you are
not allowed to talk about it, on pain of something like up to five years
in prison, even to mention that you were handed a national security
letter that said turn something over.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Yeah. That was the case of Nick Merrill, for example,
whoís a brave American, who essentially fought and won the NSL that was
handed down to him.
AMY GOODMAN: And the librarians of Connecticut -
JACOB APPELBAUM: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: - who were taking on the USA PATRIOT Act and didnít
want to give information over about patrons in the library that the FBI
wanted to get information on.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Right, absolutely. So, an NSL, whatís specifically
scary about it is that all that is required is for an FBI agent to
assert that they need one, and thatís it. And you donít have a chance to
have judicial review, because you arenít the one served. Your service
provider will be served. And they canít tell you, so you donít get your
day in court.
AMY GOODMAN: Laura, can you set up this clip that we have?
LAURA POITRAS: Yes, actually, this is what Jake was alluding to. On
Monday, there was a panel at the Open Society Institute. And Jake - and
there was a deputy general counsel of the FBI who was present, and Jake
had the opportunity to question her about national security letters.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Are you including national security letters in your
comment about believing that there is judicial oversight with the FBIís
FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: National security letters and administrative
subpoenas have the ability to have judicial oversight, yes.
JACOB APPELBAUM: How many of those actually do have judicial oversight,
FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: What do you mean by that? How many have -
JACOB APPELBAUM: I mean, every time you get a national security letter,
you have to go to a judge? Or -
FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: No, as you well know, national security
letters, just like administrative subpoenas, you donít have to go to a
judge. The statute does allow for the person on whom those are served to
seek judicial review. And people have done so.
JACOB APPELBAUM: And in the case of the third parties, such as, say, the
2703(d) orders that were served on my - according to the
Wall Street Journal - my Gmail account, my Twitter account,
and my internet service provider account, the third parties were
prohibited from telling me about it, so how am I supposed to go to a
judge, if the third party is gagged from telling me that Iím targeted by
FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: There are times when we have to have those
things in place. So, at some point, obviously, you became aware. So at
some point, the person does become aware. But yes, the statute does
allow us to do that. The statute allows us.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Jacob, explain who she was again.
JACOB APPELBAUM: So, my understanding is that sheís the deputy general
counsel of the FBI.
AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of what she has just said?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Essentially, what she says is,
"We are just and
righteous because you get judicial review. But there are some cases
where you donít, and we are still just and righteous. And you should
trust us, because
COINTELPRO will never happen again."
Thatís what I
heard from that. And, in fact, later, someone asked about COINTELPRO and
said, "How can we" -
AMY GOODMAN: The counterintelligence program that targeted so many
dissidents in the 1970s.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Yeah. Tried to get Martin Luther King Jr. to kill
himself, for example. The FBI wrote him a letter and encouraged him to
commit suicide. So for her to suggest that it is just and right and that
we should always trust them sort of overlooks the historical problems
with doing exactly that for any people in a position of power, with no
JUAN GONZALEZ: William Binney, what about the companies that are
approached by the government to participate or facilitate the
surveillance? Your sense of the degree of opposition that theyíre
mounting, if at all? And also, has there been any kind of qualitative
change since the Obama administration came in versus what the Bush
administration was practicing?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, first of all, I donít think any of them opposed it
in any way. I mean, they were approached to saying, "Youíll be patriotic
if you support us." So I think they saluted and said, "Yes, sir," and
supported them, because they were told it was legal, too. And then, of
course, they had to be given retroactive immunity for the crimes they
were committing. So -
JUAN GONZALEZ: Approved by President Obama.
WILLIAM BINNEY: And President Bush, yeah. It started with Bush, yeah.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the differences in the administrations?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Actually, I think the surveillance has increased. In
fact, I would suggest that theyíve assembled on the order of 20 trillion
transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: How many?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Twenty trillion.
AMY GOODMAN: And youíre saying that this surveillance has increased? Not
only the -
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: - targeting of whistleblowers, like your colleagues,
like people like Tom Drake, who are actually indicted under the Obama
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: - more times - the number of people who have been
indicted are more than all presidents combined in the past.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right. And I think itís to silence whatís going on. But
the point is, the data thatís being assembled is about everybody. And
from that data, then they can target anyone they want.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Binney, talk about Bluffdale, Utah. What is being
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, a very large storage device, basically, for remote
interrogation and remote processing. Thatís the way I view that. Because
thereís not enough people there to actually work the data there, so itís
being worked somewhere else.
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you get the number 20 trillion?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Just by the numbers of telecoms, it appears to me, from
the questions that CNET posed to them in 2006, and they published the
names and how - what the responses were. I looked at that and said that
anybody that equivocated was participating, and then estimated from that
the numbers of transactions. That, by the way, estimate only was
involving phone calls and emails. It didnít involve any queries on the
net or any assembles - other - any financial transactions or credit card
stuff, if theyíre assembling that. I do not know that, OK.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the original - the original allegations that you
made, in terms of the crimes being committed under the Bush
administration in terms of the rights of American citizens, could you
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I made that - I reported the crime when I was
raided in 2007. And it was that Bush and Cheney and Hayden and Tenet
conspired to subvert the Constitution and violate various laws of the -
that exist in the statute at the time, and hereís how they did it. And I
was reporting this to the FBI on my back porch during the raid. And I
went through Stellar Wind and told them what it did and what the
information it was using and how they were spying on - or assembling
data to be able to spy on any American.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a clip of Congress Member Hank Johnson -
heís the Georgia Democrat - questioning National Security Administration
Keith Alexander, last month, asking him whether the NSA spies on U.S. citizens.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: Does the NSA routinely intercept American citizensí
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: Does the NSA intercept Americansí cell phone
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: Google searches?
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: Text messages?
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: Amazon.com orders?
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: Bank records?
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: What judicial consent is required for NSA to
intercept communications and information involving American citizens?
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: Within the United States, that would be the FBI
lead. If it was a foreign actor in the United States, the FBI would
still have the lead and could work that with NSA or other intelligence
agencies, as authorized. But to conduct that kind of collection in the
United States, it would have to go through a court order, and the court
would have to authorize it. We are not authorized to do it, nor do we do
AMY GOODMAN: That was General Keith Alexander, the NSA director, being
questioned by Democratic Congress Member Hank Johnson. Bill Binney, heís
the head of your agency, of the NSA. Explain what heís saying - what
heís not saying, as well.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I think itís - part of it is a term, how you use
the term "intercept," as to whether or not what theyíre saying is, "We
arenít actually looking at it, but we have it," you know, or whether or
not theyíre actually collecting it and storing it somewhere.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So the mistake of the congressman was not to ask, "Are
you collecting information?"
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, he also said things like, "We donít collect"
- or, "We donít collect against U.S. citizens unless we have a
warrant." And then, at the same time, he said that we donít - at the
same interview, he said, "We donít have the capability to collect inside
this country." Well, those are kind of contradictory.
AMY GOODMAN: Is he lying? Is General Keith Alexander lying?
WILLIAM BINNEY: I wouldnít - you know, the point is how you split the
words. I wouldnít say "lying." Itís a kind of avoiding the issue.
AMY GOODMAN: Jacob Appelbaum, how does this relate to you? And how
powerful is General Keith Alexander?
JACOB APPELBAUM: I was saying to Bill that I think heís probably the
most powerful person in the world, in the sense that -
AMY GOODMAN: More powerful than President Obama?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, sure. I mean, if he controls the information that
arrives on Obamaís desk, and Obama makes decisions based on the things
on his desk, what decisions can he make, if - except the decisions
presented to him by the people he trusts? And when the people he trusts
are the military, the military makes the decisions, then the civilian
government is not actually in power.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Binney, youíre nodding your head.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes. I mean, well, for example, their responsibility is
to interpret what they have and report up echelon. So, I mean, thatís
the responsibility of all the intelligence agencies. So, they basically
filter the information to what they believe is important, which is what
they should do, because, you know, theyíre occupying - it takes time for
leaders to review material to make decisions. So they have to boil it
down as best they can. So itís a function of their processing, but it is
important that they do it correctly to make sure the information that
gets there is correct and complete as it can.
AMY GOODMAN: Is General Alexander more powerful than President Obama?
WILLIAM BINNEY: In the sense of making - of presenting information for
decision making, sure.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Laura, the impact on journalists, who have to go
through what you go - youíve gone through the last few years, just to be
able to report whatís going on with our government? The chilling effect
that this has on - maybe not on you, but on many other journalists?
LAURA POITRAS: Sure. I mean, I feel like I canít talk about the work
that I do in my home, in my place of work, on my telephone, and
sometimes in my country. So the chilling effect is huge. Itís enormous.
AMY GOODMAN: You keep your computers and telephones away from
conversations youíre having in a room?
LAURA POITRAS: Yeah. When we had a meeting with you, remember, we told
you - we kicked all your cell phones and all your computers out of the
AMY GOODMAN: You un - the wired phone, you unwired.
LAURA POITRAS: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: My cell phone, you didnít allow me to have it in the room.
And you made sure there were no computers in the room.
LAURA POITRAS: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
LAURA POITRAS: Because we wanted - well, we wanted to talk about -
because we were bringing - we were bringing William to New York. And -
AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there, but weíre going to go online
right now at democracynow.org. Weíre going to continue this conversation
with Bill Binney of the NSA, formerly with NSA; Laura Poitras and Jacob
More Secrets on Growing State Surveillance
- Exclusive with NSA Whistleblower and Targeted Hacker
April 23, 2012
In part two of our national broadcast exclusive
on the growing domestic surveillance state, we speak with National Security
Agency whistleblower William Binney and two targeted Americans:
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras
hacker Jacob Appelbaum,
who has volunteered for WikiLeaks and now works with Tor Project, a
nonprofit organization that teaches about internet security
Binney left the NSA after the 9/11 attacks over
his concerns about the agencyís widespread surveillance of U.S. citizens.
He describes how the FBI later raided his home
and held him at gunpoint and notes there is still no effective way of
monitoring how and what information the NSA is gathering on U.S. citizens
and how that data is being used.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to part two of
Democracy Now!ís whistleblowerwilliam">national broadcast exclusive on
the growing domestic surveillance state and the Department of Homeland
Securityís efforts to spy on dissident journalists, whistleblowers and
We play more of our interview with National Security Agency
whistleblower William Binney. He was a key source for James Bamfordís
recent exposť in Wired Magazine about the NSA, how the National Security
Agency is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in
Bluffdale, Utah. Binney served in the NSA for close to 40 years,
including a time as technical director of the NSAís World Geopolitical
and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in
2001, he has warned the agencyís data-mining program has become so vast
it could, quote, "create an Orwellian state." In 2007, the FBI raided
Binneyís house. An agent put a gun to his head. His appearance on
Democracy Now! on Friday marked the first time Binney spoke on national
television about surveillance by the National Security Agency. He
revealed the agency collected vast amounts of data on communications
between U.S. citizens.
Juan GonzŠlez and I also interviewed two people who have been frequent
targets of government surveillance. Laura Poitras is the Oscar-nominated
filmmaker, and Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security researcher who has
volunteered with WikiLeaks. Poitras is the director of documentary
films, My Country, My Country, about Iraq, and The Oath, about
GuantŠnamo and Yemen. Both Poitras and Appelbaum have been repeatedly
detained and interrogated by federal agents when entering the United
States. Their laptops, cameras, cell phones have been seized.
Presumably, their data has been copied. The Justice Department has also
targeted Appelbaumís online communications.
I started by asking Jacob Appelbaum about his work and how being
targeted for surveillance has impacted him.
JACOB APPELBAUM: I work for a nonprofit, and I work for -
AMY GOODMAN: Explain the nonprofit.
JACOB APPELBAUM: The nonprofit is the Tor Project,
a nonprofit dedicated to creating an anonymity network and the software
that powers it. Itís free software for freedom, so that everybody has
the right to read and to speak freely. No logins, no payment, nothing.
Itís run by volunteers. And I also work at the University of Washington,
which technically is a government institution, as a staff research
scientist in the Security and Privacy Research Lab.
And how has it changed my work? Well, like Laura, I donít have important
conversations in the United States anymore. I donít have conversations
in bed with my partner anymore. I donít trust any of my computers for
anything at all. And in a sense, one thing that it has done is push me
away from the work that Iíve done around the world trying to help
pro-democracy activists starting an Arab Spring, for example, because I
present a threat, in some cases, to those people. And I have a duty as a
human being, essentially, to not create a threat for people. And so, in
a sense, the state targeting me makes me less effective in the things
they even, in some cases, fund the Tor Project to do, which is to help
people to be anonymous online and to fight against censorship and
JUAN GONZŃLEZ: Iíd like to ask, William Binney, the impact of having
devoted your entire working life to an agency - that is, to protecting
the national security of the United States - to have that very agency
then attempt to turn you into a criminal and to view you as a criminal,
the emotional toll on you and your family of whatís happened the last
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I guess, first of all, it was a very depressing
thing to have happen, that they would turn their - the capabilities that
I built for them to do foreign - detection of foreign threats, to have
that turned on the people of the United States. That was an extremely
depressing thing for me to see happen internally in NSA, that was
chartered for foreign intelligence, not domestic intelligence.
And I guess that simply made it more important for me to try to do
things to get the government, first of all, to correct its own criminal
activity, and I did that by going to the House Intelligence Committees.
I also attempted to see Chief Justice Rehnquist to try to address that
issue to him, and I also visited the Department of Justice Inspector
Generalís Office - after Obama came into office, by the way, to no
avail. I mean, that was before the 2009 joint IG report on surveillance.
AMY GOODMAN: Which said?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Basically it just said you need to have better and more
active monitoring of these surveillance programs. It didnít say anything
else. So that just simply did absolutely nothing, because the oversight
thatís given to the intelligence community is virtually nonexistent from
Congress. I mean, all - they are totally dependent, because they have no
way of really knowing whatís happening inside the agencies that are
involved. Unless they had people who would come forward and tell them -
like me, for example - they would not know those things.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Binney, can you compare todayís surveillance to John
Poindexterís Total Information Awareness, who was head of DARPA - and
you can explain what that military agency was - the outcry then, forcing
ultimately the Bush administration to say, "It is shut down. Weíre
ending Total Information Awareness"?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, hereís how I viewed Poindexterís efforts. He was
actually pushed out as a test, to test the waters in Congress to see how
they would be receptive to something they were already doing. In other
words, that process of building that information about everybody getting
total information was already happening. And they threw Poindexter out
with DARPA, which is the base - an advanced research group. They fund
advanced research programs, and that was one of the things they were
saying they were doing, but it was actually already happening. And the
question was, would it be acceptable to Congress, because they were
keeping it very closely held in Congress under the - calling it a covert
program. So, that makes it - that would make it a process to find out
what the reaction would be, if they exposed to Congress what they were
JUAN GONZŃLEZ: But the NSA is such a huge agency, and there are so many
career people in that agency. Your concerns cannot be yours alone. There
must be many within the agency who are deeply troubled by whatís going
WILLIAM BINNEY: Oh, yeah, Iím sure there are. I mean, I know a number of
them that are. But theyíre still - theyíre so afraid to do anything. I
mean, theyíve seen what happened to us. They sent the FBI to us. So
theyíre afraid of being indicted, prosecuted. And even if you win the
case, if youíre indicted, you still lose, because youíve had to hire a
lawyer and all, like Tom did and we did.
AMY GOODMAN: Tom Drake.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right, Tom Drake. And so, you lose any way you speak of
it. When they have unlimited funds to do whatever they want and you
donít, they can indict you on any number of things, like they tried to
do with us.
AMY GOODMAN: They didnít indict you, though.
WILLIAM BINNEY: They drafted an indictment, but they didnít - they
didnít actually do it, because I found evidence of malicious
prosecution. And they dropped it.
AMY GOODMAN: How?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, the indictment was drawn up against all of us who
were on the IG report, and also Tom Drake, because we all met, plus some
others, at the Turf Valley Club, and they had all our emails and all of
our data to show that we were doing that. Plus they had the view graphs
that we prepared there. And their whole objective there was, how could
we incorporate to attack Medicare/Medicaid fraud? And so, what we were
doing was preparing a joint teaming paper that would be a kind of a
incorporation papers. They called that the "conspiracy paper."
called it a conspiracy, and we were conspiring to do something. But they
didnít - they thought they had all the exculpatory evidence, and they
didnít, because there were two other people there that werenít - that
had never had a clearance, and they were going to participate in this,
in this development, so they had all the data, too.
And when I found out, because they told our lawyer that they were
preparing to indict us on that as a conspiracy, why, I went through and
pulled all the data together.
And since Tom had been indicted at that
time, and I knew his phone was tapped, so I - by the FBI - I decided I
would give him a call and tell him what all the evidence is of malicious
prosecution, so that I was speaking to the FBI people, and they would
pass the information along to the DOJ, that would say,
"Hey, we know
this is malicious prosecution. You had the emails that listed the
agenda, what we were going to discuss at the Turf Valley Club. You also
had all of the slides that we prepared at the Turf Valley Club. And, oh,
by the way, if you need to find out when they were prepared, you go in
to click on the file, go down to properties, look in the properties and
see the date and time that the file was created, and thatís when we were
at the Turf Valley Club. So it was direct evidence of what we were doing
there. Plus there were two other people that were there that they didnít
have a grudge against, so they werenít targeting, and they never talked
to them at all about what the meeting was about."
So I said,
all evidence of malicious prosecution. And you need, Tom, to tell your
lawyer about this," because I was telling the FBI that weíre going to
notify all our lawyers what youíre doing.
So, and after that phone call,
we never heard about the Turf Valley Club again. That was dead.
AMY GOODMAN: Tom Drake then, though, faced espionage charges.
WILLIAM BINNEY: They created - yeah, they created other charges.
AMY GOODMAN: They said he had aided the enemy, etc. Ultimately, the case
WILLIAM BINNEY: Those were all fabricated charges, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: William Binney, federal aviation regulators have
acknowledged dozens of universities and law enforcement agencies have
been given approval to use drones inside the United States. The list
includes Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection,
various branches of military, defense contractor Raytheon, drone
manufacturer General Atomics, as well as numerous universities, Police
departments with drone permits include North Little Rock, Arkansas;
Arlington, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Gadsden, Alabama; and Ogden,
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, thatís simply another step in the assembly of
information. This is the visual part of the electronic information
theyíre collecting about people. So hereís your visual part. I mean, you
could collect on phone - the cell phones as you move around, and then
you can watch them now with a drone.
AMY GOODMAN: And itís not just the NSA who can gather phone information.
WILLIAM BINNEY: No, this -
AMY GOODMAN: Police departments now.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right. Actually, I think itís shared, because if you -
if you go back and look at Director Muellerís testimony on the 30th of
March to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he responded to a question when
he was asked the question of "How would you prevent a future Fort Hood?"
He responded by saying that
"We have gotten together with the DOD and
have created this technology database."
He called it a "technology
database." Utah will be included in that, Iím sure. And -
AMY GOODMAN: Meaning Bluffdale.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yeah, right.
AMY GOODMAN: Where theyíre building this massive data center.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Its storage, yeah. And he said,
"From this technology
base, with one query, we can get all past and all future emails. So we
only have to make one query to get it."
That means he gets a target,
puts the target in, goes into the base, pulls all past ones, and as they
come in, then he gets all future ones. So, that says theyíre sharing it
across the legal - with the legal authorities, so...
JUAN GONZŃLEZ: But then also having these private defense contractors
and universities, I mean, youíre talking about a potential in terms of -
not only of people gathering information, but of malicious use of that
information by -
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yeah, you want to see if your wife is cheating on you?
OK, you could do that, yes. Thatís right. Thereís a - thatís the hazard
of assembling all this kind of data. Itís not just the government
misusing it, but itís also people working in it, looking at it, and
using it in different ways. They have no effective way of monitoring how
people are using that information. They donít.
AMY GOODMAN: You can get information under the Freedom of Information
Act about your FBI files, but can you get information about what the NSA
has on you? And explain the difference between the CIA and the NSA. I
think a lot of people donít even realize thereís this far larger
intelligence agency in the United States than the CIA.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yeah, itís about three to four times as large, yeah. The
difference is that the primary focus of CIA is supposed to be human
intelligence, a human espionage, you know, like spies, recruiting
sources around the world, and so on, whereas NSAís responsibility is
electronic intercept and electronic - analysis of electronic
communications, to form intelligence from what theyíre either saying or
how theyíre acting, to assess threat. And CIA is to take the people
input side, the human input side. Thatís their charter, anyway, so...
But they also do some of their own intelligence gathering, that thereís
kind of some overlap there, which is, I guess, a part of their charter
also. Iíve not really looked at the CIA charter that much. But so - but
I do know they do some of that. But theyíre primarily focused on human
JUAN GONZŃLEZ: And has there been any historic conflict or competition
between the NSA and the CIA, as you often have seen that -
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes.
JUAN GONZŃLEZ: - more recently with the FBI and the CIA?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Itís not - itís not historical. Itís continuous. It is a
continuous competition. Itís - the barrier for sharing, the way I would
put it, is theyíre hesitant to share knowledge and information, because
then thatís sharing power, and you no longer control that kind of input
to higher authorities for decision making. So when they do that, thatís
like releasing knowledge and releasing their power to others. And thatís
a barrier for them.
AMY GOODMAN: Jacob Appelbaum, I asked you before how people can protect
themselves. I remember you mentioned, when they took your computer, the
authorities at the border, there wasnít a hard drive in it. Explain what
people can do.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, I think one thing that is important is to know
that if youíre being targeted, these people, theyíre, you know, in the
weapons industry. It turns out that they also have the ability to break
into computers. So, if youíre being targeted, you have to take a lot of
precautions. For example, thereís a bootable CD called "Tails," and the
idea is you run Linux, and all your traffic routes over Tor, so you
donít have something like Adobe Flash trying to update itself, and then
the NSA or someone else gets to perform whatís called a "man in the
middle" attack. Instead of using Gmail, using something like Riseup. I
mean, after their server was just seized, I think kicking them some cash
is probably a good thing. They provide mutual aid for people all around
the world to have emails that are not just given up automatically, or
even with a court battle. They try to encrypt it so they canít give
things up. So people can make choices where their privacy is respected,
but also they can make technical choices, like using Tor, to ensure, for
example, that when data is gathered, itís encrypted and itís worthless.
And I think thatís important to do, even though itís not perfect. I
mean, there is no perfection in this. But perfection is the enemy of
AMY GOODMAN: How do you download Tor, T-O-R?
JACOB APPELBAUM: You go to TorProject.org, https://www.torproject.org.
And the "S" is for "secure," for some value of "secure." And you
download a copy of it, and itís a web browser, for example. And the
program, all put together, double-click it, run it, youíre good to go.
AMY GOODMAN: You can even Skype on it?
JACOB APPELBAUM: You - I would really recommend using something like
Jitsi instead of Skype. Every time you use proprietary software -
AMY GOODMAN: "Jitsi" is spelled...?
JACOB APPELBAUM: J-I-T-S-I. So, every time you use proprietary software,
you have to ask yourself, "Why is this provided to me for free?" And now
that Microsoft is involved with Skype, the question is: Doesnít
Microsoft have some sort of government leaning on them, say the U.S.
government, to give them so-called lawful interception capabilities? And
of course the answer is going to be yes, right? If you log into Skype on
a computer youíve never used before, you get all your chat history.
Well, why is that? Well, thatís because Skype has it. And if Skype can
give it to you, they can give it to the Feds. And they will. And
everybody that has that ability will. Some will fight it, like Twitter.
But in the end, if the state asserts it has the right to get your data,
sometimes without you even knowing that thatís happening, theyíre going
to get it, if they can get it.
So we have to solve these privacy problems with mathematics, because
itís pretty hard to solve math problems with a gun or threat of
violence, right? No amount of violence is going to solve a math problem.
And despite the fact that the NSA has got a lot of people working on
those math problems, you know, podunk cops in Seattle, for example,
theyíre not going to be able to do that, and the NSA is not going to
help them. Now, they may have surveillance capability. They may have
IMSI catchers. They might have automatic license plate readers. They
have an incredible surveillance state. Theyíre still not the NSA.
And even if they are sharing information, what we want to do is make
whatever information they would share worthless, especially if itís
encrypted. So if your browsing is going over Tor, at least if someone is
watching your home internet connection, they donít see that youíre
looking at Democracy Now!'s website. They don't see that youíre checking
your Riseup email. They see that youíre talking to the Tor network. And
thereís a lot of value in that, especially because your geographic
location is hidden. So when you log into Gmail - letís say you still use
Gmail - but you donít want Gmail to have a log of every place youíve
been, you use Tor, and Gmail sees Tor, and anyone watching you sees Tor.
And thatís really useful, because it means that they donít get your home
address, they donít know when youíre at work. You make the metadata
worthless, essentially, for people that are surveilling you.
JUAN GONZŃLEZ: I think you may have just gotten a lot of customers for
Tor, for Project Tor.
AMY GOODMAN: When your computer or phones are taken at the airport, do
you use them again?
JACOB APPELBAUM: I never had my phones returned to me, and I canít talk
about that. And my computer, I had - I mean, I canít remember where I
put it, so, I mean, the government back door thatís probably in it is
hopefully in safety somewhere.
AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times blog says,
"Companies that make many of
the most popular smartphone apps for Apple and Android devices -
Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram among them - routinely
gather the information in personal address books on the phone and in
some cases store it on their own computers. The practice came under
scrutiny Wednesday by members of Congress who saw news reports that
taking such data was an 'industry best practice.'"
JACOB APPELBAUM: Sounds like a data Valdez waiting to happen.
AMY GOODMAN: What gives you hope, William Binney? You worked in a
top-secret agency for close to 40 years. You quit soon after 9/11
because you saw that the agency was spying on the American people, and
you had helped develop the program that allowed this to happen.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, the only thing that gives me hope is programs like
this or Wired articles that Jim Bamford would write about this activity,
to get the word out so that people can be aware of whatís happening, so
in a democracy we can stand forward and vote, in some way, as to what we
want our government to do or not to do, and what kind of information we
want them to have or not have.
JUAN GONZŃLEZ: And are there any members in Congress that you see waging
a good fight around this issue?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, Senators Wydall sic and Udall are, so - Wyden and
Udall, they are. And there are others. Theyíre just not speaking up. Of
course, the problem is, you see, they canít tell you what their concern,
LAURA POITRAS: Well, why? Why canít they tell you? I mean, what would be
the repercussions if youíre in Congress?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, because what happens when - if they did, for
example, they would lose their clearance immediately and be off the
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the Gang of Eight, what they know, who they are.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, according to Cheney, it originally started with a
Gang of Four. And then, after the 2004 objections in the DOJ, then it
expanded to the Gang of Eight. The Gang of Four initially was the
majority and minority leader of the Intelligence - House Intelligence
Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, the HPSCI and SSCI.
Then, after the - and that, on the House side, that was Chairman Goss
and Nancy Pelosi, initially, in 2001. I donít remember the other two on
the Senate side. And then it expanded in 2004, it expanded to the Gang
of Eight, which added - on top of those four, it added the senior - the
majority and minority leaders of the House and the majority and minority
leaders of the Senate.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Jacob Appelbaum, Laura Poitras, your response to what
these civilian elected leaders know?
LAURA POITRAS: Well, itís shameful. I mean, I donít know how theyíre
going to explain it to their grandkids, right? I mean, I think this
whole post-9/11 era is - itís indefensible, right? I mean - and so, if
the risk is losing oneís clearance, is that really a risk? I mean, or I
donít know. It seems to me that if you have that kind of information,
you have an obligation to come forward with it, because itís illegal.
And theyíve been saying that. I mean, theyíve - you know, Wyden and
Udall have been saying that this is illegal or that this is secret
interpretation that the American public doesnít know about, and I think
that they should come forward, because I -
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, yeah, more importantly, itís a violation of the
constitutional rights of every American citizen. And thatís a violation
that they took an oath to defend against.
JACOB APPELBAUM: I think that itís -
AMY GOODMAN: Jacob Appelbaum?
JACOB APPELBAUM: You know, Cindy Cohn at the EFF is fighting the good
AMY GOODMAN: Electronic Frontier Foundation?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Yeah, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is like the
legal version of Riseup, in my mind, you know? Theyíre really amazing.
And theyíre fighting these cases, such as NSA v. Jewel. And I think that
it is incredibly important basically to point out - and when we want to
talk about Congress for a second, I mean, the judiciary has some -
AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds.
JACOB APPELBAUM: They have some power, but what really - what really
matters is that Congress needs to have people like Bill. They need to
have people who actually understand the technology questioning people
like General Alexander, not people who are bamboozled and fooled by the
word "email" or the word "network." And thatís what we need to do is we
need to have people that know speak to the people that donít know. And
that is Congress.
AMY GOODMAN: Jacob Appelbaum is a computer security researcher. He works
with the TorProject.org. Thatís T-O-R Project-dot-org. William Binney
directed the NSAís World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting
Group. Thatís the National Security Administration. He worked there for
close to 40 years. And Laura Poitras is the Oscar-nominated filmmaker,
her films, My Country, My Country and The Oath. This was part two of our
broad discussion on the surveillance state. We began it on Friday.
can go to our website at democracynow.org to see the full discussion or
read the transcript or listen.